Winter is Coming: Are You Prepared

Winter IS coming, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With proper preparation, your property and building can be protected from all the damaging effects of colder temperatures and winter weather risks. 

Winter weather risks and exposures

Winter is a higher-risk season for businesses in all industries. Cold, wet and icy weather conditions can be extremely harsh on structures and buildings. Plus, winter hazards, like icy and snow-covered walking paths or parking areas pose significant risks at properties of all kinds. Beware of these common winter weather risks and exposures: 

  • Water damage caused by frozen pipes: When temperatures drop, water can freeze in your plumbing causing pipes to burst, which can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damage. Frozen pipes that burst can damage your floors, walls, and other structural elements as well as damage your inventory, equipment or furnishings.
  • Roof damage or collapse caused by heavy snow: Big snowstorm in your area? The sheer weight of snow can cause your roof to cave and collapse causing quite a big of damage. 
  • Slip-and-fall accidents caused by icy, snowy walkways: Slippery areas increase the likelihood of  slip-and-fall on your property, which can be costly and even lead to lawsuits. 
  • Winter storms that cause businesses to halt: Winter storms delivering significant amounts of snow and ice may force your business to shut down for a few days–or even weeks. 

A winterization checklist for commercial property owners

Like with seasonal home maintenance, winterization steps need to be taken to protect your commercial property through the cold, winter months. Every step you take can save money and repairs down the road. So, start now, and check the list twice. 

  • Seal the exterior of your building(s): Hire a qualified contractor to repair cracks or holes in the exterior of your building, windows and doors that could allow cold air inside the structure. Make sure your building is properly insulated and cover any pipes that run the risk of freezing.
  • Inspect the roof: Check your roof for damage and loose shingles, and ensure the gutters are secured to the building. Making repairs can stop ice dams from forming on top of your building! After a large snowfall, always clean the roof of excess snow.
  • Inspect the sprinkler system and basement pipes. A frozen pipe in a sprinkler system can put your entire business at risk. Because these systems are designed to help put out fires, a pipe burst or malfunction in a sprinkler system will quickly cause large scale water damage.
  • Prevent pipe pressure buildup: When winter storms or colder temperatures are headed your way, leave the faucets in your building slightly open, dripping steadily, to help prevent pipe pressure buildup.
  • Keep the indoor temperature consistent: Even if your property is vacant for long periods of time, keeping heaters on a low setting can keep pipes from freezing or breaking. Trust us, this small heating expense throughout the winter will cost less than an expensive pipe replacement bill. Prior to turning on the heat for the season, inspect the heating system thoroughly and make any necessary repairs before cranking the thermostat up.
  • Obtain back-up power: Install a generator or other source of power that can help keep your building warm in case of a power outage caused by a winter storm.
  • Keep the parking lot and sidewalks surrounding the property free of snow and ice. Promptly shovel after each snowfall and keep salt on the ground to prevent slips and falls. While tedious, continual removal of snow and ice keeps the walkways clear and prevents employees and guests from slipping and falling. 

Be Protected for the Unexpected

At Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group, we’re all about mitigating the risks you face as a commercial property owner. But, we get it — sometimes things happen that you did not anticipate at all. We’re here to be sure you’re protected when things go wrong. Contact us, and we can discuss protection against the unexpected events that winter weather may bring.